Through out the history of over two thousand years since the Han and Wei Dynasties when the earliest paintings could be found, the brush work and ink rendition of Chinese painting have gone through a complex development process. Changes in that process, from the perspective of any exterior culture system, might seem to be too subtle to comprehend the cultural profundity in Chinese painting. That is where the difficulty lies to understand Chinese brush and ink from an outside view. By contrast from the inside view, since it is commonly recognized by Chinese painters and connoisseurs to take brush and ink as a visual language of painting, and every artist can comprehend it based on his own knowledge, there seems to be no need to expound the very concept of brush and ink. And that is where the bewilderment of Chinese artists lies when exploring its meaning from within. Both factors have led to the fact that, though discussions about brush and ink in Chinese painting have continued for over 100 years since the 20th century, there's still lack of in-depth academic and theoretical study on brush and ink, the core of Chinese painting, in particular, lacking deep exploration in brush and ink against the overall background of globalization. This book is trying to give a clear and concise introduction to the very core of traditional Chinese painting— brushwork and ink rendition, to provide an access to Chinese painting from a theoretic perspective.
About the Author
The author Pan Gongkai (b. 1947) took up his first teaching appointment in 1979 at the China Academy of Art and retired as President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2014. During that time and still today, he has acted as a tireless promoter of Chinese ink painting to generations of young artists. He has also been involved in the contemporary art world as a participant in several Venice Biennale exhibitions, many individual and group shows, and in 2014 his first solo exhibition in the United States. In 2015, Pan Gongkai started his collaboration with the San Diego Museum of Art, producing new works of art for the museum and acting as guest curator for this exhibition of the museum’s collection of historic Chinese paintings. Pan Gongkai has experimented with many artistic forms, but his practice has always been grounded in his dedication to the medium of ink painting. This form of painting has a centuries-long history in China but Pan strongly believes it is still capable of expressing the condition of contemporary Chinese culture. While there is a certain continuity in the use of black ink and the scroll format over its long history, there are in fact endless variations in how artists have expressed themselves through the seemingly simple application of ink to paper or silk, and it is this adaptability that Pan champions as this form’s ultimate contribution to the world’s artistic traditions. This book, an examination of over two thousand years of Chinese ink painting through the eyes of Pan Gongkai, forces us to look closer, delve deeper, and to understand this artist’s desire to see the form live long into the future.